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Sunday, September 30, 2018

KellyAnne and the presumption of innocence

by digby

She said this to Jake Tapper:
“I’m a victim of sexual assault. I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct. This is not Bill Cosby. Those comparisons on your network are a disgrace and the anchor should’ve called them out.”

Is she saying that Blasey Ford is responsible for her own conduct? That she shouldn't have been at the party? Or is it that her conduct is dishonest for political purposes. I don't know, but it's pretty awful.

Kellyanne Conway on CNN says people ask her how she talks to her daughters about all this, and her feeling is: "How do I talk to my almost 14-year-old son? This is Judge Kavanaugh now. It could be anybody by next week. Respectfully, it could be any man in any position now."
"Respectfully?"  Bullshit.

Statistics show that her daughters are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than her son is to be falsely accused. But for millennia society's view of this is that it's far more important than no man should have to even endure this possibility while women who actually are assaulted and abused must make the calculation that if they report, in he said/she said situation, as most assault are, the presumption goes to the man who denies it. Even in cases where there is evidence of violence, the new explanation is that the women asked for "rough sex" and she is required to prove that she is not a woman who likes such things. Most women don't report and for good reason, even now that the laws no longer allow her own sexual history to be part of the evidence defending the accused.

I'm a big believer in the presumption of innocence as a legal concept. It should be up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has committed a crime. That legal standard has nothing to do with Brett Kavanaugh's situation, of course. He's not on trial. This is an employment situation, much like all the other situations in which powerful men have been required to account for their behavior toward women. The bar for the Supreme Court is supposed to be high. It's one of the most powerful jobs in the world with a guarantee of lifetime employment.

The problem is that when it comes to women's bodily autonomy, the law is inadequate to defend it and society is muddled and confused, at best. Anti-abortion arguments pit the life of a woman against a potential life that is growing within her own body and refuses to even accept that her life, her decision, can take precedence even in the earliest stages. A woman's right to control her body and her reproduction must come second.  With rape, unless she can prove that she was raped or otherwise assaulted, her knowledge of what happened cannot be given any more weight than the evidence she can bring to the table. Her bodily integrity can, therefore, be violated without consequence.

I don't have all the answers to these complicated questions. But I do know that it's long past time we recognized that our system and frankly, our way of thinking, is inadequately serving half the human population. I don't want innocent men to be accused or punished for crimes they did not commit. (Again, being denied a promotion to the Supreme Court, particularly after pitching a tantrum worthy of a 5 year old on national TV is not such a situation. And false accusations are very rare.)

But until we deal with this inequity in our legal system and society at large, what we now have cannot be called justice in any real sense of the word.